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inBalance newsletter

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Mental Health Association of Central Australia


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Date:2008-12; Dated: Jul.-Dec. 2008




Mental Health Services -- Australia, Central -- Periodicals; Aboriginal Australians -- Mental Health -- Periodicals

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Mental Health Association of Central Australia

Place of publication

Alice Springs


no. 18

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53 unemployment outcomes due to their illness. Students study alongside other people with a mental illness, making issues around disclosure no longer problematic; classes are supportive and flexible, starting later than usual to counter the morning effects of some medications; and medical absences are understood and worked around. As a result of their studies participating students experience: u increased motivation u more confidence u a feeling of connection to the community u further education u employment opportunities Confidence in employment is gained through working as a volunteer, with the transition to volunteering done in a very supported environment and experience sort through the Community and Event Volunteering Course. Building Bridges The Building Bridges Project at The Royal Childrens Hospital Mental Health Services aimed for the employment of specific consumer (and now carer) consultant positions to become an integral component within their mental health services. This involves a critical shift in positioning for service users from being passive observers or receivers of a service to providing a capacity to be active agents impacting on their environment. The project took six years to create a secure position for a permanent paid consumer consultant within the service. The responsibility of the role is to advocate on behalf of the client group; facilitate consumer feedback and recommend strategies to address issues arising; develop policies and procedures in relation to consumer participation; and develop, implement and evaluate strategies that focus on enhancing consumer participation. The changes have resulted in a range of improved outcomes for service users as a result of workers being collectively more aware, sensitive & respectful about consumer issues. This would be an invaluable position to have on any team working with people with mental health issues. Reducing Stigma Researcher, Dr Debra Rickwood (Head of the Centre for Applied Psychology at University of Canberra) undertook a project to help to reduce stigma around mental illness. She identified three main ways to reduce stigma: 1) protesting: suppressing negative judgmental attitudes 2) education: correcting misconceptions 3) having contact with people of the stigmatised group to hear their story: the most useful In this project, pairs of people with mental illness visited high schools to talk about their lived experience. This was very successful in both educating and reducing stigma among young people, where many retained increased knowledge of mental illness. Equally as importantly, the project significantly helped the people who conducted the talks. Visiting schools & talking about life with a mental illness did more than just educate the students. It also significantly helped to raise consumers confidence, self-esteem and sense of purpose. The environment good for mental health! There were many inspirational talks about the positive influence of the environment on our wellbeing and mental health. We are fortunate in Alice Springs to be so close to a ticket to health with our environment engulfing us every minute of every day, cradled to health with only a 5-minute trip to solitude and connection with nature. Outdoors Inc. highlighted the therapeutic value of being in nature, as valuable as seeing a counsellor. The aims of the program are to reconnect to the physical self, reconnect socially, being connected with othersand challenged by this alsoand to reconnect emotionally and spiritually. Outdoor Inc. promotes discovery as a tool for connecting. The landscape story is all around and the focus goes from the internal to the external. Outdoor Inc. recently brought a group of people to the Central Australian outback as part of their journey. (cont.next page) Left: One of the highlights of the conferencehearing The Choir of Hard Knocks at the Closing Ceremony Above: 860 people from 44 countries attended over 370 presentations!